By Greg Bates
Times-Press sports correspondent
When the Shiocton football team won the state title in 2013, it used a stout defense and a run-it-down-your-throat approach on offense.
Shades of that team emerged in Shiocton’s home opener on Friday night. The Chiefs forced six turnovers – scoring 21 points off giveaways — and completed a shutout all the while running for 328 yards and four touchdowns in beating Rosholt in a non conference game.
Playing Shiocton football of old is what first-year coach Brock Pahlow is planning on getting back to on a regular basis.
Getting a much-needed win after a disappointing 20-14 loss at Tomahawk in Week 1 will do wonders for the confidence of the Shiocton players.
“We had the reality check last week that you know we shouldn’t underestimate anyone and things of that nature,” Pahlow said. “So, we kept a very level head at practice this week and we just stayed focused and played loose and it showed. We showed a better attitude second half, and that’s when we started capitalizing. The attitude was the whole problem last week.”
“Coming back from a tough loss like that, it’s just really big for this team and we needed that motivation,” Shiocton running back/defensive back James VerVoort said.
After taking a 7-0 lead into halftime, Shiocton (1-1) turned it up in the second half on both sides of the ball.
Rosholt (0-2) had nine possessions in the second half: four turnovers via fumble, four three-and-outs then punt and a four-and-out for a turnover on downs.
“That’s what we wanted to do,” Pahlow said. “We put up goals this week and we wanted to create turnovers. I told them three, and obviously they did a lot more than that. I’m more than happy with what they did.”
Added VerVoort: “Excellent job by the defense, just phenomenal.”
VerVoort had a big game on the ground, rushing for 173 yards and three touchdowns.
“I completely give credit to the line up front,” VerVoort said. “They did an excellent job blocking in the second half. The first half was a little rough, got ourselves together in the second.”
Fellow senior Reis Stingle added 76 yards rushing and a score. Brady Volkman chipped in 55 yards.
“Our backs were running hard,” Pahlow said. “They were breaking tackles left and right, and especially in the second half our offensive line started stepping it up there with that attitude adjustment. Everyone started kicking it into high gear, and that was what we needed.”
Shiocton’s Sheldon Anday recovered a fumble on Rosholt’s first possession of the game to set his team at the Hornets’ 44. On the fourth play of the ensuing drive, VerVoort scored from 9 yards out to make it 7-0.
The Chiefs worked from a short field again early in the third quarter after a nice 14-yard punt return by Stingle. VerVoort this time got a 7-yard touchdown run to put Shiocton up two scores.
Dashal Mentzel recovered a Rosholt fumble on the Shiocton 32 to set up another scoring drive. VerVoort ripped off a 46-yard run down to the 1, and Stingle found the end zone on the next play. It gave the Chiefs a 20-0 lead with 1:35 left in the third quarter.
On the next Rosholt possession, Rosholt fumbled for the fourth time on the night at its own 26. Running from the wildcat, VerVoort gained 22 yards down to the 4. He then called his own number and went in for another touchdown.
Coach Pahlow ran with a wildcat formation on a few series, taking out sophomore quarterback Caden Schmidt. He earned his first career start with senior Sam Bloch still on the sidelines after a left shoulder injury during Shiocton’s preseason scrimmage.
Pahlow wanted to mix it up a bit having VerVoort – who started at quarterback in Week 1 – taking some direct snaps.
“It’s not that Caden Schmidt by any means was struggling, you get a sophomore in there at such a key position like quarterback, you don’t want the nerves to overtake him,” Pahlow said. “We were just trying to give him a little break in the action, trying to make sure he keeps a level head and mix things up as well.”
Pahlow was really impressed with the play from his young quarterback.
“He handled himself well,” Pahlow said. “Again, there was no poor decisions made by him by any means. He did real well and it’s good to have that comfort there.”
The win was big for the Shiocton players. It was also big for Pahlow since it was his first as a varsity coach.
“It’s scary, especially when you start out the season as a new coach,” Pahlow said. “You want to make sure you’re not making mistakes and you definitely want to make sure you’re not ruining a kid’s future in this program. That first game really shot the nerves.”
Pahlow is hoping his guys can build off the win when the team faces a good Pacelli squad in Shiocton on Friday.
“Just keeping the attitude going because they’re gradually getting the attitude back,” Pahlow said. “They’re starting to get it.”